TBP helps owner land R2m travel contract

Nikki Lala

Nikki Lala’s travel business is looking up after she was able to land a R2-million contract thanks to help from business support organisation The Business Place who helped her obtain R500 000 in funding from Anglo Zimele.

With the business plan that The Business Place helped Lala and her business partners Nonceba Gabotlhalwe and Floris Olivier develop, the three were able to apply for the funding support from Anglo Zimele.

After passing a two-month long assessment process that included face-to-face interviews, the three were eventually awarded R550 000 in funding.

Within weeks they were able to employ six full-time staff and a bookkeeper.

“At this point we were able to continue with our marketing and we also used the money to buy a new office space in Marshalltown, Johannesburg this year,” she said.

The Business Place last year also helped the three to register their business and gave them subsidised office space at their Johannesburg offices. The latter formed part of a one year incubation programme that the partners started in May.

“We had no business experience and so we were encouraged by TBP (The Business Place) to join the programme so as to focus on running the service side of things while the organisation provided us with free accounting and financial management services through its staff,” says Lala.

However, during incubation Lala realised that the business lacked important systems to help them to get ahead. But to do this, the three needed funding.

“We needed to install an upgradable online booking system which allows us to also market our services through our website,” she said.

With the new booking system the business’s monthly turnover increased to about R40 000, over twice their initial monthly turnover of R15 000.

The partners then realised that they needed a bigger challenge to grow even further.

“And so we went back to TBP to help us secure our first corporate contract.

We needed this challenge to enable us to grow our experience and enter a new market,” says Lala.

The organisation helped put them in touch with a corporate auditing company which had been searching for a travel agency to make international travel bookings.

Following a number of meetings and a lengthy service presentation to the corporate company’s management in June, Travel Nation was awarded a R2-million contract.

“I can’t emphasise enough how excited we about taking on the new contract to organise bookings for the corporate company’s local and overseas travels,” says Lala.

She explains that the deal, which is expected to be finalised by December, has pushed the travel agency into a good position – as news of the agreement has also helped expose Travel Nation to a number of potential corporate clients.

She adds that the three will use the new contract to further the business and hire more people.

“The booking systems and people are what we rely on. We are going to add more improvements to the business’ work systems and employ more staff to help manage tasks when the deal consummates next year,” she says.

The Business Place has offices located in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Phokeng in North West,

Lala, says the three decided to use their experience to start their own travel agency.

Anglo Zimele, Floris Olivier, , Nikki Lala, Nonceba Gabotlhalwe, The Business Place (TBP)

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